As a result of the special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts, an election won by Republican Scott Brown, Barack Obama is receiving all kinds of advice as to what should be done about health care.
Some say to abandon the health care plan completely. That is totally unacceptable after so much effort and time put into this crucial area of the American economy, and with so many millions of Americans excluded from having access to decent health care. If that is done by the President, he will lose his entire base, and he will be perceived as caving in to the right wing and the small number of people, about 100,000, who determined in Massachusetts that they did not want health care legislation, because, after all, that state already has a similar health care plan brought about under the governorship of Republican Mitt Romney in 2006.
A second alternative is just to go for the kinds of areas of the legislation that, theoretically, many Americans and even some Republicans in Congress would agree need to be worked on, such as the age for children to continue to be covered under their parents’ health care plan, to end annual and lifetime limits on coverage, to cover preexisting conditions, and to provide health care exchanges that would allow competition and allow cross state boundary plans. While that would be certainly better than the abandonment of the whole plan, it would be a piecemeal approach to health care, and still not deal with the reality that about 15 percent of the nation would still have no access to decent health care, an issue which has been promoted since the time of Theodore Roosevelt a hundred years ago, and advocated in specific legislation since Harry Truman 65 years ago.
A third approach and the right one is to utilize legislative rules and employ “reconciliation”, which allows a Senate majority of 51 votes to pass legislation, just as 218 votes is enough as a majority in the House of Representatives to pass legislation. Why should a determined minority be permitted to block progressive change by employing obstruction and negativism and therefore prevent the will of the majority? This tactic was used regularly by the Bush Administration, a few times with Dick Cheney’s vote breaking a tie in the Senate.
Some will say that a majority of the American people are opposed to the health care plan, but that is based on conflicting polls, many of them employing questioning that distorted the topic and confused the people who were being polled. There are many indications that when people are told in detail what the health care bill promotes, then in so many cases, they will say they certainly want such plans to be enacted. It is more a question of lack of understanding and knowledge, or to put it less nicely, ignorance of the facts of the plan, that causes many to oppose it. The opposition Republicans and talk radio and Fox News Channel spend inordinate amounts of effort to promote distortion, exaggeration and pure lies to scare people and promote fear of change. The President cannot allow this to happen, as he stands by and gives in to the hysteria and ignorance of the facts.
Therefore, President Obama, you need to uphold your convictions and beliefs of the necessity of this health care legislation when you deliver the State of the Union Address this Wednesday evening, rather than concede to the critics and those who over read the Massachusetts results!
You must show the American people and your political party that you are willing to stick your neck out for what you believe in! You must show real leadership, and stop just using the word “fight” in your speeches, but actually show you have the guts and the courage as Harry Truman regularly demonstrated to “fight” with every ounce of your strength for your agenda! You have to be aggressive, as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson were, to push the party and the Congress and the American people toward your vision of what is needed! That is what you were elected to do, and you must therefore stop working at being a “nice guy”, and use the White House as a “Bully Pulpit”, as Theodore Roosevelt termed it!
So on Wednesday, come out fighting for your program, as that will inspire many millions of Americans that they have a true advocate! We have had enough of Presidents who speak for the wealthy upper class and the comfortable upper middle class! Come out for the struggling middle class and the poor, and that will inspire these people to come out and vote for you and your party in 2010 and 2012!
There are some who fear that if the President comes out slugging for his agenda, that it will be a disaster for his party in the midterm congressional elections. To me, it seems just like the exact opposite would occur, that if Obama fails to follow through, then his party will suffer a disaster. It could be that I am and other progressives are wrong, and if that turns out to be true, so be it! At least, we will know that we went down fighting for our principles! If the American people really give in to fear, hysteria, and ignorance, they will be the losers, but I don’t want this historic change in politics that occurred in 2008 to be destroyed by its advocates! If those who wish to destroy triumph, we will all be the losers, and it will lead to a counter reaction after the American people realize what a mistake they have made! But for now, Mr. President, stick to your beliefs and principles and know that we, the progressives, will be there at your back, supporting you with every ounce of our strength!